Dreaded by the gym, this simple treadmill workout helped one woman lose 105 pounds

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Megan Tjelle, 29, shared the details of her 105kg weight loss journey in a viral TikTok video that garnered 1.8 million views.

Walking played an important role in her weight loss. She also credits sticking herself to a consistent schedule where she sleeps eight hours a night, wakes up at the same time every day, and eats at regular intervals when she needed to get her health back on track.

And she discovered some things she didn’t expect, like skinny privilege and body dysmorphia along the way. She shared her story with TODAY.com.

Focusing on his career contributed to his weight gain

Tjelle was in good shape when she was young. Sports and activities such as gymnastics, cheerleading, track and skiing kept her active for hours each day.

But when she was in college and nursing school, she had to cut back on her practice. “I was totally focused on school and I didn’t have any kind of sports to keep me active,” she tells TODAY.com. I feel like I started neglecting myself because I put everything into studying. That started stress eating.

At her first job out of nursing school, she worked 12-hour night shifts: That definitely made things worse. I ate at odd times and had no consistent schedule. I put everything into my nursing career, but I didn’t put anything back into myself.

The situation changed in October 2022, when she got a new nurse’s job with normal Monday to Friday, 9-5 hours. It completely changed things for me. It was the first time I have had such a schedule in my adult working life.

Tjelle says that working 12-hour night shifts as a nurse and the lack of a consistent schedule led to weight gain. (Megan Tjelle)

He pushed himself to go to the gym

While Tjelle is a fan of “hot girl walks,” living near Chicago means walking outside can be difficult in the winter. So he started going to the gym every day. It was really hard for me at first. It took me so long to walk into the gym and start something when I wasn’t very sure of myself.

He walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes at 3 miles per hour at a 3-4% incline, slowly increasing his distance and incline. And over time, those trips to the gym helped him rediscover his love for fitness and the mental health benefits of exercise.

It started slowly with walking, but as I lost weight and stayed consistent, instead of focusing on food and emotional eating to cope with my stress, exercise became my outlet, she says. I focused on the gym, which boosted my confidence and helped me believe in myself. So many times I wanted to give up and not go to the gym. Just putting myself out there every day boosted my confidence. I sincerely believe that I can do anything I put my mind to now.

He expanded his workouts from the treadmill to other forms of cardio such as the Stairmaster, running, cycling and weight lifting. I have noticed a huge change in my fitness level, he says. He is training for his first half marathon.

He will also see the value of rest days. At first, he went to the gym seven days a week. I felt guilty every time I missed a day. But I realize now that I need to give myself a couple of rest days each week to recover and give my body the rest it needs. Now he spends an average of five gym days a week.

Tjelle lost 55 kilos in the first six months of walking both outside and on the treadmill.  (Megan Tjelle)

Tjelle lost 55 kilos in the first six months of walking both outside and on the treadmill. (Megan Tjelle)

He cleaned up his diet and aimed for a calorie deficit

I had ordered a lot of takeout because I felt like I was always in a rush. But I made it a priority to start planning everything and track what I eat, she says.

To save time and make healthy choices an easy choice, she started using a local meal service called Seattle Sutton, which offers meal plans with targeted calorie amounts. He added protein or snacks to these meals when needed, but he remained in a calorie deficit.

I stuck to those meals consistently and stopped eating junk food. I didn’t cut out sugar completely, but I stopped drinking sugary Starbucks drinks. I just cleaned everything, he says.

Now that she has reached her weight loss goals, she is not as strict about what she eats and no longer has to stay in a calorie deficit. He tries to eat in moderation and live according to the 80/20 rule.

Now Tjelle copes with anxiety by moving her body instead of turning to food for comfort.  (Megan Tjelle)

Now Tjelle copes with anxiety by moving her body instead of turning to food for comfort. (Megan Tjelle)

He switched to weight loss drugs after reaching a plateau

Tjelle lost 55 pounds in the first six months, and then her weight loss slowed. I had lost weight several times before, but I had always gained it back because I really couldn’t keep up with the calorie deficit and the cravings were bad, she says.

So in April, she talked to her primary care doctor, who referred her to a specialist, and she started taking the weight-loss drug Wegovy (semaglutide).

I continued all the lifestyle changes I had made six months earlier, such as losing weight and exercising, she says. He has been using Wegovy to maintain and continue his weight loss.

She shared her weight loss journey on TikTok

At first, Tjelle was inspired by the many transformation videos she saw on TikTok. So he also decided to share his journey. To be honest, it was hard for me to start posting videos because posting it is so vulnerable. But I wanted to let others know that it is possible. If I could do it, surely they would.

The positive feedback received on TikTok keeps her posting. He gets a lot of comments from people who are in a similar situation as he was: It’s really inspiring to see all the comments that are supportive and that people say that I’ve influenced them or inspired them to start. It really makes me the happiest.

She also shared some other aspects of her weight loss journey, both negative and positive:

  • People comment on her weight. She found that her weight became a central topic of conversation. As I lost more weight and it became more noticeable, it became the focus of almost every conversation with family, friends and co-workers, she says. I almost feel like it made me more self-conscious after my weight loss compared to before. Like they’ve been following me all along and now I’m aware of it.

  • She feels confident enough to wear clothes she wouldn’t wear before. It feels amazing. That is probably one of the best things about this weight loss. It’s not that I couldn’t have worn those clothes before, but now I have the confidence to wear the things I want to wear, she says.

  • She struggles with body dysmorphia. When I lost weight and even now, I almost don’t recognize myself. Sometimes it takes me a minute to process that this really is me. Sometimes I still think of myself as extra large and reach for those clothes. I have to take a moment and remember that I’m really small now. It takes a while for my brain to realize that I’ve lost this much weight. That’s a big thing to understand. Keeping my fitness up and building my muscles to be more defined and firm increases my confidence and body image. It’s something I’m still working on, but it’s getting better.

  • He’s starting to experience skinny privilege. How people treat you in public is different. You were noticed more and treated better when you are thin compared to overweight. I feel like when you’re overweight, people stare at you. People treat you nicer, as sad as it is, when you’re skinny.

From back pain to PCOS: how dieting improved her health

In addition to maintaining her weight at 137 pounds for a few months, she saw the following improvements in her health:

  • She has polycystic ovary syndrome and losing weight has cleared the symptoms and her periods are back to normal: I don’t think it will ever go away, but losing weight has made it better in every way. It’s not a problem in my life at all.

  • He no longer has back, knee or plantar infection.

  • He gets insulin resistance, blood pressure and high cholesterol under control. Taking care of it and losing weight was important to me because high cholesterol and premature heart disease run in my family, she says.

  • She has reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression and no longer binges or emotionally eats when she feels anxious or depressed.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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